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    Natracure Blog — gut bacteria

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    Can Healing Your Intestines Heal Your Arthritis?

    I ate this and my arthritis got worse. For years, Veena Tareja, PhD, listened to her patient’s observations about their diets and how they felt. She says “I always had the feeling that the gut had something to do with arthritis, because it takes most of the body’s abuse.” Can the key to relieving rheumatoid arthritis pain lie in your stomach? Many new studies point to the connection between intestinal bacteria and autoimmune disease, including rheumatoid arthritis. Read on to find out if healing your gut can also heal your arthritis. [caption id="attachment_413" align="alignright" width="300"]Your gut bacteria plays a big part in your immune health.   Your gut bacteria plays a big part in your immune health.[/caption] Can healing your gut also heal your arthritis? Did you know there is a microbial zoo living inside you? “The current estimate is that humans have 10 trillion human cells and about 100 trillion bacterial cells,” says Dr. Martin J. Blaser at the New York University School of Medicine. This community in your gut is made up of millions of tiny bacteria. It’s called your microbiome, and it plays a big part in your immune health. The majority of bacteria in your gut are beneficial bacteria that don’t harm you. In fact, they protect you by helping you digest food, absorb nutrients, and remove waste. They guard against infection by combatting foreign intruders, so when a virus  or harmful bacteria enter your body, your microbiome kills it, protecting you from getting sick. Your microbiome is largely determined by genetics, but many factors can alter it. Diet and lifestyle, infections, environmental toxins, and taking antibiotics can all change the balance of the microbiome, reducing the number of protective bacteria, and allowing harmful bacteria to proliferate. The link between gut bacteria and arthritis Dan Littman, professor of pathology and microbiology at the New York University School of Medicine and his team of scientists were the first to show in humans that disturbances in the digestive tract may play a role in autoimmune attacks on the joints. The scientists compared the gut bacteria from patients with rheumatoid arthritis with those of healthy people and found that a bacteria known as Prevotella copri was more abundant in patients with newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis than in healthy people or patients with chronic, treated rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, the overgrowth of P. copri was associated with fewer beneficial gut bacteria. Littman called his team's study results "the clearest association with a particular microbe to date." In Wheat Belly, Total Health, Dr. William Davis says: “Alterations in bowel flora compound the inflammation of autoimmunity, worsening symptoms such as the joint pain of rheumatoid arthritis.” John A. McDougall, MD, founder of the nationally renowned McDougall Program explains that in the intestines, only a single layer separates us from foreign proteins and microbes. Patients with inflammatory arthritis have been shown to have inflammation of the intestinal tract. Infections and toxins can cause gaps in this barrier and allow them to pass into the blood. This condition is referred to as a “leaky gut.” This correlates with studies by researcher Veena Taneja, an associate professor of immunology at the Mayo Clinic. [caption id="attachment_414" align="alignright" width="300"]Unfriendly bacteria can cause the body to launch an immune response. Unfriendly bacteria can cause the body to launch an immune response.[/caption] "The gut seems to be the common link” Taneja says. “An estimated 1.3 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis, in which the immune system attacks tissues, inflaming joints and damaging organs. If unfriendly bacteria from antibiotics, stress and diet outnumber good bacteria, it can cause a leaky gut, allowing various bacteria to move outside the gut into the body, where they may be seen as foreign. Then the body starts an immune response, producing inflammatory substances." Diet and gut bacteria Scientists are realizing more than ever before that we can treat arthritis by balancing the bugs in the gut through diet. In Hope for Arthritis Sufferers, Dr. John A. McDougall says: “Arthritis is not an inevitable part of growing older. The causes for these joint afflictions lie in our environment, and our closest contact with our environment is our food. Dr. McDougal believes that joint diseases stem largely from unhealthy diets. “When people in Africa followed traditional diets, no cases of rheumatoid arthritis were found. Joint diseases are now becoming common as people migrate to wealthier nations and abandon their traditional diets for highly processed foods.” How to heal your gut to reduce arthritis pain Dr. Jill Carnahan, board certified in Family Medicine and Integrative Holistic Medicine and founder of the Methodist Center for Integrative Medicine, says: “Food is everything with health and healing. Change your diet to more whole foods, organic whenever possible, and get rid of processed garbage. Get back to what your great grandmother would have eaten.” Dr. Carnahan offers these tips: [caption id="attachment_415" align="alignright" width="300"]Eat lots of whole fruits and vegetables, and lean, organic meat from grass fed animals. Eat lots of whole fruits and vegetables, and lean, organic meat from grass fed animals.[/caption] 1. Limit grains. Eat lots of whole fruits and vegetables, and lean, organic meat from grass fed animals. 2. Eat an abundance of nourishing fats to heal the gut. These include Omega-3 fish oils, as well as organic butter, ghee (a non-dairy version), coconut oil, and MCT oil, which is derived from coconut oil. Avoid all trans-fats such as hydrogenated vegetable oils. 3. Include a handful of nuts daily. Brazil nuts contain a great amount of selenium which we need, so three or four a day should be top of the list. (Make sure they are organic and not full of mold, which is toxic.) 4. Limit all sweeteners. Sugar is super addictive. An astounding study on rats showed that given a choice between sugar and cocaine, the rats chose sugar! Plant-based raw stevia powder is okay. If your gut microbes are in balance, organic raw honey offers some wonderful properties and it’s a great nutritional sweetener. 5. Use herbs such as garlic, oregano and thyme to treat bacterial imbalances. Turning the autoimmune ship around Dr. William Davis offers hope by suggesting that everyone with autoimmune disease eliminate all grains to quench the raging fires of autoimmune inflammation. In “Wheat Belly, Total Health”, Dr. Davis says: “The proteins of grains, including in wheat, rye, barley and corn, initiate the small intestinal process that gets the fires of autoimmunity burning. Many conditions respond to grain elimination within days. Joint pain in the fingers and wrists typically disappears within 5 days of your final pancake. The swelling, joint pain, stiffness and disfigurements of rheumatoid arthritis is going to take longer to respond to grain elimination, typically weeks to months, and occasionally longer. This should come as no surprise as the complex mechanisms of autoimmune inflammation develop over years. It’s like turning an ocean liner around. It doesn’t occur quickly but it does happen over time.”